Q: What can you eat on the Paleo diet?
A: The focus of the paleo diet is on eating whole, unprocessed foods. This gives you plenty of options including a variety of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils. In avoiding processed foods, the aim is to cut out soft drinks, sugar, grains, dairy, legumes (including peanuts), vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and margarine.
What is Paleo?
Medical News Today suggests that the paleo diet takes its inspiration from the paleolithic era, a time before farming and agriculture became a thing. So, access to food groups that exist today such as grains and most dairy, didn't exist at that time and therefore are not included in the paleo diet. Prior to the development of the concept of farming and agriculture humans were predominantly hunters and gatherers and ate what was available to them from time to time.
Although there are a significant number of foods that cannot be consumed on this diet there is an extensive variety of foods that can be, and should therefore be kept on hand to keep followers of this diet satisfied and motivated.
The Paleo diet food list
Everyday Health provides a comprehensive list of options for people going paleo.
Fresh vegetables are the foundation of the paleo diet, so pick your favourites and make them the foundation of all your meals. The list below includes some options to keep in mind, but is in no way exhaustive of the options available:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok choy
After the vegetable group comes fruit. Everyday Health reminds us that packaged sweets aren’t allowed on this diet, so fruit has to be the way to satisfy your cravings for sugar. Some of the fruits that are suitable on this diet are:
While eating fruits and vegetables is great for you, a diet that includes nothing else isn't sustainable. Protein is necessary for our bodies and is a key part of the paleo diet. It's important to make sure we’re consuming the right types of meats and proteins. So, while seafood can be eaten in large quantities without impacting on our health, eating bacon with every meal is not healthy. According to Eat Drink Paleo, any grass-fed meat will fit the paleo diet plan well although there are other types of protein that can also be included in this diet:
- Fish and Shellfish
- Nuts and Nut Butters
While the Paleo diet is seemingly lean it does allow for the consumption of healthy fats. Fat makes up a critical part of the paleo diet and it’s important to eat a variety of different fats; protein provides for one source of fats, but other healthy fats can be adopted for cooking and adding flavour to meals. Examples of healthy fats include:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Ghee (made from grass fed butter)
- Chia seeds
Similarly to healthy fats, herbs and spices are essential to making the whole foods required for this diet taste amazing. But this isn’t the only benefit, many of the spices also have anti-inflammatory properties. Paleo friendly spices to include in your dishes include:
- Fresh chives
- Vinegar (including apple cider vinegar)
- Cacao powder
In addition to eating specific types of foods, staying hydrated is essential. As is the case with any low carb diet, the key to weight loss success and good digestion is consuming enough fluids. Paleo friendly options include water, coconut water, kombucha, bone broth, and unsweetened sparkling water.
If you’re loving these food options and are ready to get started, here’s a shopping list that will make sure you have all the essentials.
Paleo meal plans
Given the variety of foods available to be consumed on this diet, an eating plan can be very flexible with the added bonus of no calorie restrictions. The one thing to really keep in mind is that every meal should include plenty of fresh vegetables.
Here are some meal options to get you started:
Paleo breakfast ideas
Paleo lunch ideas
- Roast chicken salad with added craisins, pecans, apple slices and vinaigrette
- Chicken lettuce wraps with your favourite condiments
Paleo dinner ideas
- Butterflied roasted chicken with wild mushroom soup
- Ham and pineapple skewers with oven-roasted tomatoes
- Greek style meatballs
- Chicken Pad See Ew
- Grilled chicken breasts with zucchini
- Spicy pork chili
- Pistachio-crusted salmon
If you’re not a fan of cooking, there are plenty of paleo meals and snack options that you can quickly toss together. Frittatas would have to be the easiest and tastiest option, not to mention great for using up any leftover roast vegetables. Otherwise, alternative portable paleo snack ideas include bananas with almond butter, a handful of olives, nuts or trail mix, and frozen berries with a drizzle of coconut milk.
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